retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Los Angeles Times reports on a new study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research saying that "more than 4 in 5 older Americans expect to keep working during their latter years, a sign that traditional retirement is out of reach for vast swaths of society ... Among Americans ages 50 and older who currently have jobs, 82% expect to work in some form during retirement."

Other revelations from the survey:

• "Excluding pensions and homes, 39% of survey respondents said they have $100,000 or less saved for retirement. Nearly one-quarter have less than $10,000."

• "One-third of retirees say they didn’t have a choice in the decision to leave the workforce."

“The survey illuminates an important shift in Americans’ attitudes toward work, aging and retirement,” Trevor Tompson, director of the AP-NORC Center, tells the Times. “Retirement is not only coming later in life, it no longer represents a complete exit from the workforce.”

I think this study has important messages to both retailers and manufacturers, who need to realize that there is this important demographic to which they can market their products and services; this also could be an important source of talent for some companies, especially those that see value in people who have some life experience.

Some will find this trend to be alarming. I would not be one of them.

People are living longer. People generally are healthier. And I think the whole notion of "older Americans" and retirement has to be reconsidered, both personally and in terms of public policy. (The public policy component, because of lobbying by special interests intent on preserving entitlements, will be a lot tougher for a government that increasingly seems to be personified by people with no interest in governing.)

Personally, I plan on working until I drop. Not at the exclusion of all else, certainly, but work is not a four-letter word in my mind. Now, I recognize that I'm lucky. I have a great job, I love what I do, it is fun a lot more often than it is not, and there's absolutely no reason to stop. (Unless, of course, you all decide to stop reading.)
KC's View: